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annenberg media ♪ captioning sponsored by annenberg/cpb narrator: the region of east asia is one of ancient cultures and modern economic growth. in japan, people are much affected by natural events, especially in rural areas.
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re, weather patterns such as the cold wind-- called yamase-- can have drastic impact on agriculture. in northern japan, economics and agriculture intersect as the rural economy has been consumed by the challenge of an age-old goal: to make the country self- sufficient in rice production. early october in japan's northeast-- or tohoku region-- is the harvest season. as a staple food, rice is as important to the japanese diet as wheat is to the western diet. for a variety of reasons-- historical, religious, economic, social and cultural-- rice in japan has meaning much deeper than simply being a crop grown onhe majority synonymous with rice farming.y
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more than a quarter of japan's domestic rice output comes from this region. the village of rokunohe is located in the northern part of tohoku. it is a marginal place to grow rice. as one moves north, the available light and the important temperature that's necessary for growing rice is limited. in other words, the growing season is limited. japanese scientists had to invent hybrid rice seeds-- seedlings-- that would grow in this environment in order for tohoku to become "the rice bowl of japan." so we really see a huge intervention by people-- science and technology-- in order to... for this particular region to become the rice bowl that it is now. narrator: by mid-may, the long winter has finally ended and it is time to plant. kobayashi fukuzo is a farmer of recognized skill.
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at 71, he knows how unforgiving the weather can be. he worries constantly about what he should do mechanized agriculture allows to anto continue to farm.rice. the fields are irrigated. irrigation is crucial. the rice seedlings depend on water, rather than soil, for much-needed nutrients. rice farmers in northeastern japan have a traditional enemy. called yamase, this cold wind can blow through the region anytime from june to mid-august. while it can be absent for years, in 1993, yamase caused extensive crop damage in tohoku.
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when the cold winds blow, temperatures drop, fog develops, and the plants don't get enough sunlight. stunted alks are a bad omen. thflower clusters, which precede the grains of rice should be much bigger. kanno hiromitsu is an atmospheric geographer. he is currently studying weather patterns in northeastern japan. in particular, he is studying the yamase phenomenon. ( speaking japanese ) translator: in the normal summer, the influence of the pacific ocean high-pressure zone extends into northern japan. when this happens, the tohoku region will be as warm as other prefectures to the south.
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however, in some years, the pacific ocean high-pressure zone is weak, and the high-pressure zone in the sea of okhotsk is strong. when this happens, a cold air mass will move south, cold winds will blow into tohoku from the north, and we get the phenomenon known as yamase. when yamase occurs, temperatures stay below 20 degrees celsius, even in august. cold temperatures can last for a long time-- as long as ten days or even a month. when this happens, the rice kernels don't form. narrator: ly is crucl to devopment of the rice keels-- it iduring this time the fin the seasonlant. that they're fng inside thetalks. dunghis period kobayashi checks his fields three times a day.
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he is constant fine-tuningthed to correspond to changes in. since the temperature water iof the wateraises e lt will be warmer than the air, the deeper water protects the delicate ears from the cold air. in 1993, the cold weather brought to northern japan by yamase continued into august. damage to the rice crop was severe. in some regions, the harvest was a total loss. in september of that year, government offials came to rokune to check on the year's rice harvest.
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( speaking japanese ) ( speaks japanese ) translator: twenty. narratoroffials cotr of slks,wer heads and rnels. ( speaks japanese ) translator: hulls: 92; kernels: two. narrator: this crop is devastated with only 90 empty hulls and only two full ones. this kind of damage had not been seen in generations. so why plant in the north rather than in southern japan? it's a fascinating example of agricultural geography and even economic geography in japan. the closer you are to the parts of the country that have become densely populated, it's been harder to maintain agricultural activities
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in those areas because of higher-paying jobs and the attractiveness of urban life in these areas that traditionally supportedts because of higher-paying jobs or at least double-cropping of rice in the course of a year. that tin the northeast,ortedts beon the other hand,ying jobs that's been much slower to industrialize. so agriculture has been the core of their economy, and the japanese government has invested huge amounts of money to turn these areas into prime rice-producing areas. narrator: kobayashi is ever vigilant. worried that the rains might bring too much water to his fields, he visits them at night and adjusts the water level. farmers in japan, especially here in the northeast, have developed labor-intensive means to protect their rice crop from the ravages of nature. during the growing season, a farmer can never be too careful.
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kobayashi works hard, so his fields are in better shape than those of his neighbors. this farmer is not harvesting at all. giving up on this year's harvest, he is mowing down his useless crop. giving up o( speaking japaneses), no sense in borrowing a combine, there's nothing to harvest. better to cut it all down. narrator: tohoku is called japan's rice bowl st dueo me oce of the research effortsause in new varieties d production techniques. even so, some years, the efforts are not enough.
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the few kernels of rice will be burnt along with the empty hulls. in bad years, many farmersave to buy rice to feed their own families. ththe yield is sparse-- only two-thirds of normal.. however, since many of the neighbing fields were a loss, he can be proud of his success in overcoming yamase. ( speaking japes ) translator: i really sweated over my crop, but they grew up well for me. that's probably why i'm so happy-- my efforts paid off.
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but, you know, it was an awful year for weather. narrator: kanno's research is aimed at finding better ways to predict yamase. wi the help of better forecasting, farmers can prepare their fields properly and save more of their crops. small changes in rice field management can affect the damage caused by yamase. but, says geographer latz, there are bigger changes in store. manufacturing employment opportunities in rural areas is increasing. so someone can become a part-time farmer, maintain the agricultural farm household, but the head of the house would commute each day to a chip-manufacturing facility or some other manufacturing facility that's high-tech oriented and earn an income there,
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but still be classified as a farm household. one of the fascinating things about the case is the age of the farmers' profiles. you see almost no young people there. 26%, 28% of the agricultural population in japan is over 65 years old in the year 2000, and this has been increasing steadily over the last decade. meanwhile, the number of young people going into agriculture is relatively static, so you're having a rapid decline of the agricultural population. japan's desire to be self-sufficient in certain agricultural crops, meanwhile, will not change. narrator: an aging population and part-time farmers will require a transformation of rice farming in japan during the coming years. one possibility is the loosening of restrictions on land ownership-- allowing fewer farmers to own larger plots of land.
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another possibility is greater involvement of women in agricultural activities. both transformations will confront traditional structures within japan. but japan has a history of changing when it needs to, and e desire for self- sufficiency in rice production is a strong incentive for change. in northern japan, economic geography and agricultural geography interact. here, people's lives and agricultural fortunes are directly affected by weather patterns such as the cold wind called yamase. but rice holds great importance to the japanese diet and culture. the goal to be self-sufficient in ricproduction will remain a continuing priority. in the region of east asia, japan remains among the pacific rim's economic heavyweights.
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despite its recent decade of economic stagnation, it is the second largest economy in the world. the intense concentration of population along the coastal lowlands is a defing ure ofapan's modern ndscape. tokyo is not only the largest, but also the most densely concentrated megalopolis on earth. in order to navigate this, workers in tokyo rely on the intricate and efficient web of public transit train routes. it's half past 4:00 in the morning at tokyo's otemachi subway station. this is an unlikely place to be riding a bicycle, but for station employees, it's a matter of crse.
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otemachi is the largest subway station in tokyo. five different subway lines go through this station and there are 38 separate exits. the first chore each morning is to open all of the outside shutters. since it would take too long to walk to each one, employees use bicycles get around in time. tokyo train stations, otemachi and ginza, are at the core of tokyo. there is a dramatic difference between the daytime and nighttime population in this area. according to the 2000 census, over one million people work here, but only 40,000 people live here. that means for every 26 people here during the day, only one is here during the evening,
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and those other 25 are commuting in on public transit. in tokyo, the government and private industry have worked very, very hard to develop a very efficient rail transportation system. and there's actually more use of public transit in tokyo, i believe, per year than in the entire use of public transportation in the united states. so public transportation in tokyo is exceptional. we're talking about something like 40 million individual rides per day. narrator: japan is a mountainous country roughly the size of california. this physical geography has contributed to densely populated cities, and made japan one of the most highly urbanized countries in the world. over 80% of its population lives in urban areas. tokyo is japan's largest city. as the capital, it is the focus of most legal, pitical, and economic activities in the nation. most large corporations have their headquarters here.
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everything tends to concentrate in tokyo. 32 million people, or one out of every four japanese live within a 30-mile radius. while tokyo casts a large shadow, it covers only three percent of the total land mass of japan. land prices here have skyrocketed. a booming economy in the 1980s and early 1990s saw profits go into real estate speculation, contributing to a bubble of inflated values. affordable housing was in short supply. more and more people began moving out to the suburbs to fulfill their dream of owning a home. by the mid-90s, japan hit an economic slump and thasian economic crisis of 1997 hit. the bubble burst and land prices began to decline, but not by much. housing prices in tokyo are falling, but they're still at very high levels compared to the u.s. the average cost of housing
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in the greater tokyo metropolitan area is about $320,000. so, um... and these are very small apartments, very small condominiums and very small houses. so, although the price is declining, it's still very difficult to afford them. it's estimated that the average worker in japan will pay about nine to 12 years of their salary right now to buy a house in tokyo. so it's... although it's getting better, it's still not a very good situation. and that's fueling, again, increasing growth in the suburbs is continuing. narrator: the area that includes tokyo, and the three neighboring prefecture kanagawa, chiba and saitama, is called the greater tokyo metropolitan area. approximately the size of metropolitan los angeles, it has about twice the populati density. it is the world's foremost megalopolis, a series of almost continuous metropolitan areas that exchange a flow of people. and it doesn't stop there.
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taylor: this whole megalopolis is part of a larger megalopolis, which then stretches west down the coast of japan all the way to the next major megalopolis, which is the osaka/kobe/kyoto megalopolis. taken together, these two megalopolises and the various cities in between them, such as nagoya and other cities, is an incredible, vast megalopolis-- by far the world's largest-- and containing a very large proportion of the japanese population. translator: tokyo's expansion has been striking. many people predicted a breakdown with the strain. but it has neither broken down nor stopped growing. i believe that one of the major reasons for this is the comprehensive transportation network. the system's design resembles a wheel with spokes. people who live in the suburbs can board a train at their local station and ride any of the spokes directly to one of the central stations such as tokyo, otemachi or ginza. i think that there are few systems like this one
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in other countries. narrator: saitama prefecture is one of the fastest-growing areas where workers can still find an affordable home. sako toshiakworks as a department manager in a major cosmetics firm. he moved to his house in saitama prefecture back in the 1970s his children were young. ( speaking japanese ) translator: the air here is really clean. i remember when first moved here how pretty the stars were. bere that, we halid in an artment near the company.
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maybe it was the neon signs, but you could hardly see any stars. i was really happy to move to such a nice place. narrator: sako leaves every morning at:00 a.m. and will commute about 20 miles to central tokyo. but as more people have moved to the suburbs, they've burdened the train system. sako has two options: the first will take 90 minutes door to door. after boarding a fast train, he transfers to a subway train. however, because this is the quickest route, he will not be able to sit down and will have to battle crowds at the transfer station. the second option is to take one train all the way to ginza so he can get a seat. the drawback is that he has to wait for that train and it makes more stops. in addition, this option takes two hours door to door.
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the limited express has arrived, but sako does not bod it. if he rides this train, he will have to stand up all the way to ginza, so he waits in line. ( announcer speaking over p.a. ) ( whistle blows ) sako waits for 15 minus while three limited-expres trains go by. he wants to sit down this morning, so he will ride the train that starts from this station. since it starts here, it is empty. he always stands in the second line from the front of the train. so long as he gets here early enough, he will get a seat.
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he tends to ride in the same car every day because he has learned that this is the ascrowded car. when he first moved out here, he always took the fastest option, but now he usually chooses the commute option that will allow him to sit down. ( announcer speaking over p.a. ) this is kitasenju station. one of the reasons sako chose his commute plan was to avoid changing trains here. understandably, he wanted to escape this crowd. kitanju isnly one of many major transfer stations.
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the jam-packed trains and platforms are not for the faint of heart. trains arrive every two minutes after 7:30 a.m., but they are still crowded. train companies are finding it necessary to expand their aging and overburdened train stations to keep pace with the rising population of the tokyo metropolitan area. the process of suburbanization in many different cities creates a situation in which people move to the periphery to get farther away, to get some more affordable housing, to get to a sort of cleaner area, quieter area, better air quality, and they realize there's going to be a longer transportation haul. then they put pressure upon public agencies to make transportation easier from those areas. so new highways are built, or in the case of tokyo, new subway lines are built or existing subway lines are extended. but what ends up happening this attracts more and me people to the area and the transportation lines--
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whether they're rail or subway or roads-- become more congested as a result. so this is sort of a process of suburban expansion that's going on in many, many places around the globe. narrator: sako arrives at ginza a little before 9:00 a.m. like most residents of tokyo, he expects the commuting network to deliver him on schedule each morning. two-hours is a long commute, even for tokyo. but the shorter 90-minute option is simply shared by too many residents of the metropolitan area. taylor: commute times in tokyo are exceptionally long, it seems, but if you think about, for example, commute times in southern california where you have people in their cars driving on three, four, five different freeways going 60, 80, 100 miles to their work destination and sitting in traffic sometimes for an hour or two, then you realize it's not actually that different. narrator: some people are attempting to rethink the concept of the ever-lengthening commute. hoping to ease the overcrowding in the capital area,
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small edge cities are under construction in several places. the goal is to createnew s where people will live and work. in makuhari new town, in chiba, construction of w housing has beenoing on for years. eventually,900 units will be constructed for a planned population of 26,000. 30% of housing will be set aside for people who work nearby. with a ten-minute walk to the business district and only a 30-minute commute into tokyo, competition for units is fierce. some lotteries have had 100 applications per unit. if these new edge cities succeed, they could change the current community pattern and divert some of the overwhelming numbers of people traveling into central tokyo each day. yet on this small scale, there is very little chance that any of these projects can achieve fundamental change.
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expanding creative options for urban growth will require a stabilized economy and greater public and private investment. still, they are adding a new element to the story of commuting in tokyo. the coincidence of lowland areas and the concentration of population and industry is a remarkable feature of japan's modern landscape. the tokyo megalopolis stretches down miles of pacific rim coastline. workers in tokyo and the surrounding area will continue to rely on the intricate and efficient web of public transit train routes to navigate this ever expanding mega-city.
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captioned by media access group at wgbh
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Mosaic World News
LINKTV October 4, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm PDT

News/Business. English news reports from Middle Eastern broadcasters. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Tokyo 30, Japan 29, Sako 6, Ginza 5, Tohoku 4, Kobayashi 3, Otemachi 2, East Asia 2, Pacific 2, Pacific Ocean 2, P.a. 2, Kanno Hiromitsu 1, Kobayashi Fukuzo 1, Kanno 1, Rokune 1, Wgbh 1, Kanagawa 1, Annenberg Media Captioning 1, Annenberg 1, Kitanju 1
Network LINKTV
Duration 00:30:00
Rating PG-13;V
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 89 (615 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 544
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

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